Many people within the United Kingdom especially women do not meet the recommended Reference Nutrient Intake for magnesium.
It is understood that diet choices, alterations to farming methods and lower availability within processed foods may contribute to this.
This is a concern as magnesium is involved in so many functions within the body including energy production, muscle function, insulin regulation, bone health and Vitamin D metabolism.
What can reduce magnesium?
– Some diuretics and acid suppressing medications such as omeprazole and lansoprazole.
– Certain illnesses, for example Crohns disease, coeliac disease and diabetes.
– Even lifestyle choices such as binge drinking, stress and strenuous exercise is believed to increase loss of magnesium.
Benefits of good magnesium levels
Health benefits which may be achieved through optimising magnesium levels these include:
– Optimal bone health: about 60% of magnesium is found within bone
– Muscle has approximately 26% of magnesium and is understood to assist in the relaxation of muscle, including cardiac muscle.
– Magnesium is linked insulin regulation which for all of us is important in the control of blood glucose levels.
– Energy production and protein synthesis is reliant on adequate levels of magnesium. So if intake is inadequate energy levels may be lowered and maintenance of muscle reduced.
– As magnesium is also connected with brain chemistry it has been known to affect mood and sleep.
– Increasing magnesium levels has shown improvement in sports performance, in those with reduced magnesium levels.
Therefore adequate intake can offer great benefits in overall well-being.
In addition to increasing dietary intake with high magnesium foods such as nuts, seeds, whole grains and green leafy vegetables to boost levels supplementation may be advantageous.
Magnesium supplements are available in many forms and it can be tempting to think ‘magnesium is magnesium, I might as well buy the cheapest’. But this is far from the truth.
Bioavailability, which means how much magnesium your body can readily use is dependent on how soluble the magnesium is.
Magnesium supplements are a combination of magnesium attached to other substances such as malic acid which may enhance absorption. The least available and usually the cheapest supplements contain magnesium oxide or magnesium carbonate these can be more difficult for the body to absorb and are sometimes used to loosen bowels in those with constipation.
So which supplement should you choose?
The form of magnesium which appears to be most easy for our bodies to absorb and does not usually cause the digestive issues is magnesium gluconate.
As well as the type of magnesium used the actual method of administration is also understood to effect absorption with liquids being the easiest to absorb, followed by powders and capsules and lastly, tablets.
The reason being tablets have other ingredients within them that may slow the absorption of the magnesium.
Therefore when looking for magnesium, liquid of the most bioavailable forms such as malate and gluconate may offer the most benefits.
Because calcium and magnesium work together magnesium should not be taken alone for any length of time and excretion of calcium will occur with long term high intakes of magnesium.
People on medication should always check with a health professional before supplementing with any nutrient including magnesium.
It is now recommended that those who expect to be or have been on acid suppressing medications (such as those listed above) for more than a year, should now be offered magnesium testing through a healthcare provider.
Connect with Expert Susan Brough
References are available on request.